[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
So, about that Highline High School proposed rebuild.
I’m a third-generation HHS alumna and since then we’ve sent a fourth.
In 1988-89, my senior year at Highline, I became sort of a part-time district activist working in support of the Highline High School reconstruction project. My partner in the project was my classmate, now infamous former Pastor, Mark Driscoll.
The language I’m reading today is VERBATIM what Mark and I used to lobby for a complete gut-and-rebuild and against historic status for the school theater – in 1988. “Inside it’s rotting” – we said that. “Leaky roofs, dry rot and plumbing problems” – I said that, about the theater where I performed and stage-managed. “Major leak developed in a stairwell” – I said that, about my French classroom. “Ancient buildings that cannot pass current, fire, safety, earthquake and technology codes” – yup, we said that. We bemoaned the decrepit state of the school, wailed about the impact to us students, and urged King County’s Historic Preservation Board to allow the district to do what “needed” to be done – which we knew meant destroy the historic theater.
The district paid to drive us around to the relevant county meetings. We were so earnest! We looked and sounded amazing. We repeated the district’s promises – their commitment to historic preservation, the experience of the architects, the state-of-the-art design, the exciting modern features (outdoor hallways! a Commons!). We “won”! I got to write a killer college application from it. Since then I’ve joked that HSD ought to have named their new Performing Arts Center the Hammond-Driscoll PAC.
There’s a lot I don’t get about this year’s bond proposal, starting with this: in building construction, 25 years is NOT THAT LONG. How is the entire school now “crumbling” again, in exactly the same ways, when we completely rebuilt it in 1989-90? Why the identical sob stories about the leaking pipes, non-functioning heating, out-of-date electrical system? Our fashion sense was questionable in 1989, but we had discovered electricity back then. (And how would the electrical system cause students to take “at least five minutes to sign on to computers in the computer lab”? That isn’t how computers work.) Earthquakes! Think of the children!
Why is this all so familiar?
As a student, I was told Highline High School was in its extraordinary condition because it hadn’t been updated since the 1920s! They were quick to say so then, and have you noticed they’re still pointing at the 1920s today, failing to mention our more recent complete rebuild? (How did those hallways get on the outside, anyway?)
I worked my 17-year-old activist butt off to get my school rebuilt, in my senior year, knowing I wouldn’t see the results, because EDUCATION. Because COMMUNITY. And I’m genuinely at a loss now. How did the 1989-90 project go so wrong? Did the Highline School District take my work and my family’s and neighbors’ money and build our promised “new, state-of-the-art” school out of cardboard? How incompetent and/or corrupt was that project? Seriously, what the heck?
And, knowing this, why in heaven’s name would I vote to give them a blank check to do the same again?
Cheryl M Hammond
Highline High School Class of 1989
[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our ~80,000+ monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]]]>